You might have called it an eye-opening week.
First President Reagan, a man notoriously myopic toward women, actually found one to nominate for the Supreme Court. Sandra O'Connor was not only a woman he said, she was a "person for all seasons."
Then we watched as controversy over this person brewed between the extreme right and the merely right. To see Barry Goldwater representing the moderate middle was enough to clarify anyone's vision.
The coalition of groups alternately labeled "pro-family" or "moral majority" disapproves of Sandra O'Connor. They maintain that her voting record as majority leader in the Arizona Senate was not pure enough to pass the test of the Republican Party Platform.
That platform, you may recall, demanded judges who "respect traditional family values and the sanctity of innocent human life." But anti-abortion groups, the Moral Majority, Inc., and others criticized O'Connor as suspiciously pro-abortion and pro-ERA.
This attitude was enough to put Goldwater's famous jaw out of joint. "I'm getting a little tired of people in this country raising hell because they don't happen to subscribe to every thought that person has," he said. "You could offer the Lord's name for some of these positions and you'd find some of these outfits objecting. . . "
In any case, it was quite a stroke for Reagan, in the midst of all the budget cuts, to find an appointment criticized as too "liberal."
Meanwhile, O'Connor's real record turned out to be about as middle-of-the-road as you could walk. It offers little cause for exhilaration or hysteria on either side.
Those who are against abortion notice that O'Connor voted against prohibiting the use of tax funds for abortion, and also voted against a bill urging Congress to pass the so-called Human Life Amendment.
But those who are in favor of keeping abortion legal notice that O'Connor seems to have personally assured the president she is against abortion.
Those opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment point out that O'Connor was one of those who introduced the amendment into the Arizona legislature in 1972. Those in favor of the ERA point out that she backed off this support.
As a judge of a state appeals court, O'Connor has not ruled on any of these hot social issues. Indeed, her lack of a record, the fact that she is neither an advocate nor an activist in any cause, is a definite advantage to her confirmation.
So O'Connor is not only a person for all seasons but for all reasons.
To begin with, she helps Reagan with his "woman problem." Women were his weakest supporters at the polls and they are still weakening. Sandra O'Connor can help stop this collapse because she is a woman, and a woman with moderate social views.
But she is a safe choice because of her conservative legal views. As someone opposed to an activist judicial role, she is unlikely to use the bench for social change.
At the same time, her appointment solves Reagan's other "problem." The president made a commitment to the far right, to people who would replace the Constitution with the Bible according to Moral Majority leader Jerry Falwell, and return to the most traditional view of men and women. But he also had a commitment to appoint the most qualified woman he could find to the Supreme Court.
Talk about your double binds. It is virtually impossible to find a highly qualified woman who would be ultra-conservative on social issues. A woman jurist by definition is in a non-traditional role. A woman lawyer of experience and intelligence has inevitably become aware of inequality.
As a young graduate of Stanford Law, Sandra O'Connor, for example, was refused a position in every major law firm in Southern California except one. That one offered her a job as a secretary. She remembers.
So what we have here on the way to confirmation hearings is this person. Sandra Day O'Connor, as much of a conservative as you can find in a qualified woman, and as much of a feminist as you can find in a conservative.
By gum and by grudging, Reagan's done it again.